County Championship: John Simpson gives Middlesex lead over Lancashire

John Simpson
John Simpson batted for 347 minutes and faced 259 balls to surpass his previous best of 143 against Surrey in 2011
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Emirates Old Trafford (day two):
Lancashire 259: Livingston 84, Croft 55* & 14-1
Middlesex 337: Simpson 167*, Sowter 52; Bailey 5-78, Parkinson 3-49
Lancashire (5 pts) trail Middlesex (6 pts) by 64 with nine wickets standing

Middlesex wicketkeeper John Simpson hit a superb unbeaten 167 to earn them an unlikely first-innings lead against new Division Two champions Lancashire.

After starting day two on 39-6, the visitors eventually totalled 337 all out, 78 runs in front.

Simpson shared stands of 107, 76 and 94 with James Harris (32), Toby Roland-Jones (32) and Nathan Sowter (52).

He hit a six and 26 fours in his career-best against his native county before Lancashire closed on 14-1.

Middlesex's total was the highest in any first-class game by a side after losing their first six wickets for fewer than 40, beating Northamptonshire's 308 against Surrey in 1947, having been 39-6.

Lancashire failed to take a wicket in the morning session as Bury-born Simpson and Harris added 98 to the score, but the latter was eventually bowled by a perfect leg-break from Matt Parkinson which turned and clipped off stump.

Former Lancs second teamer Simpson reached his hundred off 154 balls with an emphatic pull for four off Tom Bailey before Roland-Jones hit four successive boundaries in an over from Saqib Mahmood before pulling a ball from Parkinson to deep mid-wicket.

Sowter batted well for the second fifty of his career before he was caught at first slip off Mahmood and Lancashire were left to face eight overs after last man Ethan Bamber fell to Parkinson (3-49).

Alex Davies went for a duck when he needlessly swung Miguel Cummins to backward square leg, but Keaton Jennings and nightwatchman Mahmood survived to stumps.

Lancs leg-spinner Matt Parkinson told BBC Radio Lancashire:

"It was a long afternoon. When you get a side six down at the start of play you don't think you'll be fielding at five in the afternoon.

"It says a lot about how well Tom Bailey bowled the night before, but the wicket has got better.

"I don't think we bowled badly but obviously John Simpson batted very well.

"It turned a bit and, as the game goes on, you'd hope it would turn more on day four."

Middlesex centurion John Simpson:

"We had a tough first day but it was nice to come out fighting and to be in the position we're in.

"It was excellent to hang around with James, Toby and Nathan, all of whom helped us get to a good total.

It was a nice way to get a career best. It's probably up there with Scarborough in 2014 as one of my best innings.

"It seems those situations bring out the best in me. It was obviously nice to come back to Old Trafford and get a few runs."

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